I'm sure this book will be seriously enjoyed by many people, just not me. I've read a few other Michael Pollan books, and found them so interesting. This one seriously bored me -- I just could not continue reading. Just seems like so much bloated overthinking.
The style of writing, sliding from recounting the process of preparation into fascinating historical anecdotes, psychological theory and other titbits of information is so highly enjoyable I wanted to immediately go try sautéing onions properly. I've never cooked them for half an hour for anything other than onion soup, but now I'm going to try whenever I have time. And for a non-barbecue eater, I now want to try American barbecue.
The mix of anecdote, history and food preparation invokes the social import that cooking has traditionally had in my family. I love histories of things we consider "mundane" anyway, since quite often they are the key to larger explorations of history, and this is definitely one of the most enjoyable.
It made me want to chop onions. I think that's a fairly extreme reaction to a book. :)
Fans of Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” may be disappointed (as I was). “Cooked” contains ample material to justify the purchase of this book, but unfortunately the material is overwhelmed by fluff and repetition. Had an editor slashed about 50% of the text - the excess words between the information - I would have given this book 5 stars.
Say something about yourself!
Michael Pollan's passion and interest comes through clearly. He made me become fascinated with sourdough bread and I bought and now care for a sourdough starter (named Fred).
Michael Pollan's experience and passion about his journey in expanding his cooking skills is contagious and thoroughly enjoyable.
I expected another great book on food from Michael Pollan but I got so much more. He takes you on a journey of not only how the elements to draw the maximum taste and nutrition from our food but also how each type of cooking engages and enhances our culture and family.
I also learned how modern food preparation methods that intend to shortcut the amount of work in our meals also shortcut the flavor and especially the nutrition.
I loved this book and talked about it with my friends and coworkers.
Daughter of a librarian, trained as a librarian, a lifelong lover of books. Mysteries, sci fi, fantasy, biography, true crime, romance, cooking, classic films, etc.!
A look at learning how the four "ancient" elements change food, and how these changes have changed us as humans. I was skeptical after seeing a brief interview, but after listening to the book, getting the whole explanation instead of the 15-second sound bite, I have recommended this book to co-workers, family, and friends. Pollan does not write from a clinically detached place, he actually learned to bake bread from his own natural starter culture, braise with the best of them, brew at home, pickle and ferment veggies, make cheese, and barbeque. He shares the triumphs of the processes, as well as the failures, and his encounters with the true artists he met along the way. He has learned that cooking can bring the family together, especially when the interest and passion is shared with the other members of the family. I think the fact that he still continues to make bread, braise, and brew occasionally speaks volumes to the satisfaction that can come from food lovingly and artfully produced and appreciated. When you learn to appreciate the art and effort that go into the preparation, you are much more conscious and conscientious in the eating and drinking!
I would not listen to this in one marathon evening or even weekend, but it is worth the time to change your understanding and appreciation of cooking.
I really enjoyed the parts actually about cooking and exploring its history. Not so much the lengthy sermonizing and philosophizing about 21st century American cooking habits. Yes, it's Michael Pollan, and that's his thing. Nonetheless, the lectures could've been edited extensively without loss of the message. I wish he'd stuck more to his topic and less to his opinions about the topic. By the way, I thought he read his book beautifully and have no issues with the performance aspect of this audio book.
I have listened to 2 previous audiobooks by this author and found them to be very good. This book was as good or maybe even better than the other two books. Michael Pollan did a great job narrating it and I feel like it added a lot to my enjoyment of the book. I will likely listen to it again before long!
I have enjoyed many of Mr. Pollans books and was excited to find this addition to his self read collection. I really enjoyed " A place of my own" and hoped it would be more along the lines of that than some of his past dissections of the Lipid Theory. I enjoyed those also but this book really made me see cooking in a different light. I took some valuable knowledge away from this writing. I became friends with the sour dough culture in my kitchen, appreciate the baking process so much more and open up a whole new world when it comes to meat. The beer I have yet to try. For those who even have a slight interest in cooking.... Michael Pollan will or tries very well to change your perspective on the subject in the way most Pollan fans would expect. Loads of research and thought go in to all his works and he did not fail here.
The first criticism I heard about the book was it "nothing more than just a cookbook. The sage of better farming and other such wisdom about changes needed to our agricultural world should do better." Of course this profound analysis came from looking at the book and thumbing through the pages when it first arrived at Costco.
In reality this really is the transformation of Pollan's writing from science and engineering to why art is more the reason for our humanity; more than our technology. Cooking is the basis for and history of our culture. Could it be the reason our culture is sick and dying, is because our cooking is a metaphysical manifestation of the sick and dying industrial age?
It could be argued that specialization created our industrial consumer culture, but yet it is specialization that is making too big to fail, the cause and effect of future failure. Cooked is but a minor analysis of what truly makes us human and puts the focus back to where it belongs, on the transformation of ingredients into transformational food, rather than fast food junkies, less human, and less healthy